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New Zealand police intercept $245 million worth of methamphetamine
New Zealand’s police and customs have seized a record $245 million worth of methamphetamine. Over 600kgs of the illicit drug were intercepted at Auckland Airport. Police have arrested six people, including some with links to the Comancheros Outlaw Motorcycle gang.
Costa Rica legalises medical cannabis
Costa Rica has become the 11th Latin American nation to legalise cannabis-based medical products. The new legislation aims to reduce the illicit cannabis market and benefit the country’s economy. Under the new legislation, hemp production for industrial use is also permitted.
Drug-related deaths up 58% in Northern Ireland since 2010
Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has reported that drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland increased by 58%, up from 92 in 2010 to 218 in 2020. Of those 218 deaths, 70% were males and 55% were aged 25-44. Furthermore, 61% of deaths were linked to opioids.
Three Moroccan provinces allowed to produce cannabis
Morocco’s government has announced its plans to regulate cannabis cultivation, identifying three provinces in which cannabis growing will be permitted. The new cannabis legislation aims to reduce illegal production and to encourage environmental and sustainable production to benefit the economy.
Singapore expands smoking ban
Singapore’s Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE), Sentosa Development Corp. (SDC) and several statutory boards have announced that the country’s smoking ban is to be extended. Under the new legislation, smoking will be prohibited in public parks and gardens and on recreational beaches. The ban will come into effect on 1 July 2022.
US state of Kentucky considers decriminalising cannabis
Kentucky’s Senate is reviewing a bill that, if passed, will decriminalise possession and use of small amounts of cannabis. People in Kentucky would be permitted to possess up to 8 ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to five cannabis plants. Convictions for cannabis-related offences would also be expunged.
FDA to gain regulatory control over synthetic nicotine in the US
A proposed addition to a federal spending bill will grant the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory control over synthetic nicotine. If approved, any product “containing nicotine from any source” will be considered a tobacco product. Synthetic nicotine producers will have to gain approval from the FDA to continue marketing their products.
Taiwan police need drivers’ consent for blood alcohol tests
Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices has ruled that police must gain drivers’ consent before conducting blood alcohol tests. A judge argued it is against human rights to force someone against his or her will to perform such a test, requesting that traffic laws are changed to reflect this. Until new legislation is put in place, police officers must obtain a warrant from the local prosecutors’ office to conduct blood alcohol tests.
Zimbabwe establishes cannabis processing and export plant
Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce has launched the country’s first medical cannabis processing and export plant. The plant, set up by King Kong Organics, will contain facilities for developing new cannabis-based medical products.
Cameroon bans shisha smoking
Cameroon’s government has banned shisha pipes, saying that shisha smoking poses serious health risks. Other African countries including Kenya, the Gambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ghana have already banned shisha smoking. As shisha smoking is widespread in Africa, it is suspected countries will have to continue revising their strategies to reduce population wide use.
Pharmaceutical companies finalise $26 billion US opioid settlement
Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson have finalised the $26 billion (approx. £19.9 billion) opioid settlement plan that was announced in 2021. The settlement was on hold until enough US local governments agreed to participate. The settlement money, which is intended to go directly to victims of the opioid epidemic, will be distributed as early as April 2022.
Finland customs seizes 9 tonnes of snus
Finnish customs seized a record 9 tonnes of snus in 2021. Illegal smuggling of the tobacco product has increased since 2011, when just over 30 kgs were intercepted. Snus sales were banned by the European Union in 1992 and were formally banned in Finland in 1995.
Drug related deaths down by 8% in Scotland
Police Scotland have reported that suspected drug-related deaths decreased by 8%, down from 1,411 in 2020 to 1,295 in 2021. More than 70% of cases involved men and 67% involved people aged between 35 and 54. While these figures are different from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures (due to be released in the summer), they are expected to be similar.
Sky Vegas fined for gambling adverts
Sky Vegas faces a £1.2 million penalty for sending “bet £5 get 10 free spins” promotional offers to 41,395 people who had voluntarily excluded themselves from gambling in a bid to stop. The promotional message was also sent to 249,159 people who had unsubscribed from marketing emails.
China proposes new vaping product regulations
New regulations in China will mean that vaping products and manufacturers will now be examined by the State Council administrative department. The new measures will also ban vaping flavours apart from tobacco. The proposed regulations are currently online and open for public feedback and consultation.
Cocaine and heroin seizures increase in Ireland
Seizures of cocaine and heroin made by Ireland’s Drug and Tobacco Smuggling Revenue increased seven-fold in 2021, from €10 million in 2020 to €72 million in 2021. The total value of drugs seized increased from €45 million to €115 million.
Danish Health Authority advises under-18s not to consume alcohol
The Danish Health Authority has published new guidelines advising that under-18s do not consume alcohol. The recommendations are intended to protect young people’s developing brains from harm caused by alcohol use. The guidelines also recommend that men and women should drink no more than 10 units of alcohol per week.
£7 million of cigarettes seized in England and Wales
A joint operation by HM Revenue and Customs, Border Force, police and local authorities has resulted in £7 million worth of illicit cigarettes being seized across England and Wales. Approximately 13 million cigarettes and 4,300 kgs of tobacco were confiscated as the UK government seeks to reduce the illegal tobacco market.
Israel to decriminalise recreational cannabis
Israel’s President and Justice Minister have announced that the country will decriminalise recreational cannabis use and expunge existing cannabis-related convictions. Once the law has been approved, people will be able to apply for prior cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia related convictions to be removed from their records. Convictions that occurred within the military or that relate to minors will not be considered for expungement.
UK Royal Navy seizes £6.5 million worth of cannabis
Six and a half tonnes of cannabis were discovered by the Royal Navy during a search of a dhow in the Middle East. The seizure is the third substantial haul by the Royal Navy to take place in 2022 in the Gulf of Oman and is estimated to be worth £6.5 million.